In August we explored the move in New York to extend the protection of certain child labor laws to child models (under the age of 18).  You can read more here.  This week, the bill (S.5486) was signed by Governor Cuomo and has passed into law with significant impact for the fashion industry, particularly in the casting run-up to the next New York Fashion Week in February 2014.  Passage of this bill has been swift; the law will be effective from November 20, 2013 and employers will need to ensure immediate compliance.

Until now, New York’s child print and runway models have fallen outside the scope of the Department of Labor’s legal protections for child performers.  Modelling – unlike acting, singing and dancing – was not included in the Labor Law definition of ‘creative and artistic services’.  However, the bill amends the Labor Law  and Arts and Cultural Affairs Law so that child print and runway models will now be afforded the same protections as other child performers.

Many associated with the fashion industry have in the past expressed concern about the apparent lack of protection when it came to child models. Notable supporters of this reform have included the advocacy group Model Alliance (particularly its Executive Director, model Sara Ziff) and world-famous supermodel Coco Rocha.

Under the new law, employers wishing to hire child models must meet certain requirements:

  • Apply for permits if employing models under 18.
  • Adhere to restricted working hours for models under 18 who will not be permitted to work past midnight on school nights and must not return to work less than 12 hours after they left.
  • Designate chaperones (“responsible persons”) to monitor the activity and safety of models under 16.
  • Provide health and safety information to young models and have a nurse with paediatric experience on site.
  • Transfer 15% of a child model’s earnings into a separate, restricted bank account for the benefit of the child. The trust should be set up by the model’s parent or guardian.

Given these new administrative and monitoring requirements and restrictions on working hours, it seems likely that many designers will be discouraged from casting younger models both in their shows and off the run-way.  Employers that continue to hire models under 18 should ensure that the agencies and casting directors they work with also comply with the new legal requirements.

FAQs are available on the New York Department of Labor website.